Letecia Stauch, the El Paso County woman charged with killing her 11-year-old stepson last year, will stand trial for murder, a judge ruled Thursday.
District Judge Gregory Werner ruled there was enough evidence for her to stand trial and ordered Stauch held behind bars until her trial.
“This is not a final step,” 4th Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen, the lead prosecutor on the case, said. “She is still innocent until we prove her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Prosecutors earlier this month presented a trove of evidence tying Stauch to the death of her stepson Gannon. Investigators testified they found Gannon's blood on Stauch's shoe, discovered her DNA on a gun linked to the death and learned that shortly after Gannon disappeared Stauch traveled to the part of Florida where Gannon's body was ultimately found.
After the evidence hearing, Werner said he needed time to consider whether Stauch should face trial, acknowledging that family would likely be frustrated with his delay.
Stauch opted to view Thursday's proceedings virtually from El Paso County jail. She is next due in court on Nov. 4 to enter a formal plea, and the judge ordered her to appear in person for the arraignment.
Allen said he anticipated Stauch to plead not guilty. “That’s what happens in almost all of these types of cases,” he said.
Investigators believe Stauch killed Gannon sometime after 2 p.m. on Jan. 27, 2020. Stauch seemingly cooperated with authorities who were searching for Gannon when he was reported missing, but authorities quickly began to suspect a homicide. Deputies searched the Stauch home on Feb. 3.
In Florida, Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office announced it had found Gannon’s body less than two months later on March 18. Santa Rosa County is on the Florida Panhandle, east of Pensacola.
In addition to first-degree murder, prosecutors charged Stauch, 38, with child abuse resulting in death, tampering with a body and tampering with physical evidence. If she is convicted of the top charge, she could be sentenced to life in prison.
The case was initially put in hold after Stauch's bizarre behavior after her arrest, including an alleged attempted escape, triggered an examination to determine whether she was mentally fit to stand trial.
In January, the court found Stauch was mentally ready for trial and pushed the case forward.
But a trial in the case is still months away, officials said.
A trial would likely not start until next year, Allen said, and he anticipated it would take longer than two weeks.